Cherif’s ‘Djawla’ Is The First Great World Music Album Of 2022

Courtesy: World Music Network/Riverboat Records

World music artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif released his debut album Djawla Friday through World Music Network and Riverboat Records.  The nine-song record is an interesting start for the artist, who currently calls Switzerland his home following his exile from his former home nation of Algeria some years ago.  The 43-minute, mostly instrumental presentation proves itself worth hearing thanks to its diverse musical arrangements.  They are diverse not only in their sounds and styles, but also in their combination of cultural influences, which end up directly influencing their sounds and styles.  One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes early in its run in the form of ‘Savage Butterly.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Sirocco,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another way in which the arrangements’ diversity shines through.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘A True Lie,’ one of the record’s later entries, is also of note.  It will also be discussed later.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a successful offering from Cherif.

Djawla, the debut album from international artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif, makes for a positive start to this year’s field of new World Music albums.  Its featured musical arrangements do well to make that clear.  ‘Savage Butterfly,’ one of the album’s early entries, is one of the songs that makes that clear.  Drummer Hannes Junker’s performance on this song is just one of its highlights.  When he enters the arrangement, his performance comes across as quite similar to that of Terry Bozzio.  That is evidenced through the tight, staccato nature of his phrasing.  Cherif’s own performance on mandole alongside his own performance adds even more to that sense of songs from Bozzio’s Black Light Syndrome record, which also featured performances from Terry Bozzio and Steve Stevens.  The progressive nature of the overall performance, and the control that each musician has in his own performance makes this song so unique and just one of the works that makes this record so enjoyable.  Listening through the song after reading through the brief liner notes about the song, listeners can actually envision the tiny, gentle butterfly making its annual migratory voyage through everything, showing its wild nature (no pun intended) and determination to reach its goal.  It is such an enjoyable presentation, and just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘Cirocco’ is another song that helps show what makes Cherif’s debut album worth hearing.

While ‘Savage Butterfly’ boasts something of a progressive nature in its stylistic approach and sound, ‘Sirocco’ bears its own separate identity.  Cherif’s Algerian roots are once again on full display here through his performance on the mnadole.  At the same time, the introduction of Clement Meunier on clarinet alongside Junker’s performance on drums, gives the arrangement a clear jazz influence, too.  The sense of swing that is displayed through the pair’s performance makes for its own uniquely engaging and entertaining presentation that also continues to show the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes.  According to the liner notes featured with Djawla, the arrangement is meant to conjure thoughts of the warm Saharan winds that blow from Africa all the way up to his current home in Switzerland.  The varying tempos and energies from each musician’s performance does so well to paint that rich picture.  The frenetic energy exhibited in the song’s final minutes paints that picture of the hot, dry winds blowing from the continent while the slower, more relaxed moments lead to thoughts of the winds building.  The whole musical story and the picture that it paints is fully immersive.  Keeping all of this in mind, it makes clear why this song is yet another important part of Djawla’s whole.  It is just one more of the songs that shows how much the album has to offer.  ‘A True Lie’ is one more example of how much the album has to offer.

‘A True Lie’ is described in Djawla’s linr notes as being about Cherif’s need to basically find something positive, something that would help him maintain at least some hope.  The way in which the song’s mood turns from somewhat edgy to more positive as it progresses does just as well to help make that story clear.  That edgy energy is accompanied by much of the music being played in a minor chord.  However, as the song progresses that all changes.  The arrangement turns somewhat funky for lack of better word, though the performance of bassist Antoine Brochot.  His fellow musicians follow suit from that point to the end, presenting the hope that Cherif must have found through his journey.  It will leave audiences feeling positive, just as Cherif must have felt.  The whole styling and sound here is unlike those of the other examined songs and from the rest of the record’s entries.  When each of the songs examined here and those other songs are considered together, the whole makes this record the year’s first great World Music offering and an equally enjoyable debut from Cherif.

Djawla, the debut album from Anouar Kaddour Cherif, is a strong first outing for the international artist.  Its success is shown from the record’s opening to its end.  That is proven through all three of the songs examined here.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record, again, the first great World Music offering of 2022 and an equally strong first outing for Cherif.

Djawla is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

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Blues Fans Across The Board Will Appreciate WMN, Riverboat Records’ New Compilation

Courtesy: World Music Network/Riverboat Records

January is officially in its final few days, but even with the month closing out, the year is still very young.  With the new year fully underway now, the staff of World Music Network and Riverboat Records wanted to make sure not to waste any time getting started on this year’s new additions to its ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.  The first of this year’s additions to said series came Friday in the form of The Rough Guide to Texas Blues.  The 26-song compilation is another impressive addition to the companies Rough Guide To…series, too.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists.  This will be discussed shortly.  The liner notes that accompany the collection are another high point to its presentation and will be discussed a little later.  The set’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation.  All things considered, they make the collection yet another successful addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ Rough Guide To…series.

World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ latest addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To…series, The Rough Guide To Texas Blues is a presentation that blues fans across the board will enjoy.  That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists.  The songs and artists in question cover a specific span of 11 years from 1926-1937.  That era was really the formative period for Texas blues.  Legends, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly (a.k.a. Huddie William Ledbetter), and Blind Lemon Jefferson all rose to fame during those years and set the stage for future generations of blues performers.  They are featured here performing some of their most well-known songs along with some lesser-known artists of the day.  One of those lesser-known acts is Texas Alexander.  Born Alger Alexander, Texas Alexander was from Jewett, Texas.  While Alexander released a number of hits, such as ‘Texas Special,’ ‘Mama’s Bad Luck Child,’ and ‘Broken Yo Yo,’ his overall career did not make him a star at the level of the noted artists.  Stories passed down hint that his life and career was fraught with strife and that his musical output was limited.  Regardless of accuracy, his work helped establish the bigger sound that was early Texas blues, that jazz and swing-infused sound and style. 

Andrew “Smoky” Hogg is another of the bluesmen who made Texas blues so beloved even though his star never shined like those of some of his counterparts.  HE is also featured here, performing the song, ‘Kind-Hearted Blues.’  His performance here is a take of a song that helped establish Robert Johnson’s fame in the blues community a year prior in 1936, ‘Kind Hearted Woman Blues.’  The two renditions are noticeably different.  Johnson’s take is much more subdued and slower than Hogg’s update.  Hogg’s take on the song not only bears a slightly altered title – it drops the “woman” from the title – but it is also much shorter, clocking in at two minutes 39 seconds versus the five minute-plus rendition recorded by Johnson.  Even with the differences in mind, Hogg’s take on the song would still help Hogg make his own place in the Texas blues community.

Frenchy’s String Band is yet another of the lesser act featured in this collection that shows the importance of the set’s featured acts and songs.  This Texas-based string collective released just two titles for Columbia in 1928, ‘Sunshine Special’ and ‘Texas and Pacific Blues,’ which is the song included in this collection.  The song is a prime example of how early Texas blues were heavily influenced by the jazz and swing music of the age.  The use of the strings alongside the horns conjures thoughts of the swing bands of the era that would perform songs, such as the Charleston.  The connection between the two worlds is no clearer than in this performance from this little-known act.  When the pairing is considered with the other acts and songs noted and the others featured here, the collective leaves no doubt that the songs and acts featured throughout the collection are of their own importance to the compilation’s presentation.  They are just a part of what makes the compilation successful.  The liner notes that accompany the collection are of their own importance.

The liner notes that accompany the compilation’s featured acts and songs are important because of the history lesson that they provide.  Whether audiences are casual or more well-versed, the history lesson featured in the liner notes will engage and entertain listeners.  One of the most interesting items pointed out in the liner notes comes in the discussion on the influence of Henry Thomas.  The liner notes state that Thomas’ first recording session did not take place until 1927, when he was 53 years-old. That is an old age for any artist in any genre to get started.  Add in that at such point, the music that he recorded was, as the liner notes state, a representation of a bygone era.  His performance of ‘Don’t Ease Me In’ is a prime example of that older sound.  It really served to exemplify the sound that set the stage for the creation of the Texas blues, and is so pivotal as part of the bigger picture of the region’s blues scene. 

The revelation of Thomas’ role in the region’s blues development and history is just one of the most interesting of the items featured in the liner notes.   The focus on the role of blues vocalists, such as Bessie Tucker and Texas Alexander is of its own interest.  The notes point out that their vocal styles are so reminiscent of the work songs and field hollers that African-Americans would use in the fields in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Audiences who are even slightly familiar with those vocal styles will hear it cut through clearly from each, too.  At the same time, their singing styles also show the connection to the jazz influences on the blues at the time.

As if everything noted is not enough, the liner notes’ lead paragraph points out the stylistic difference between Texas blues and Mississippi Delta blues, the other most famous blues style of the age.  That in itself will hopefully encourage audiences to embark on their own musical voyage to learn even more deeply, just how different and alike the two genres were and still are.  The journeys that audiences will hopefully end up taking will lead to an even deeper appreciation for both forms of the blues, and possibly even the subgenre that is Chicago blues in the long run.  Between this starting point, the other revelations and other items included in the liner notes, those notes play heavily into the compilation’s presentation just as much as the collection’s musical content.  Together, they give audiences more than enough reason to take in this record.  Even collectively, they are just a portion of what makes the record stand out.  The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important items.

The songs’ production is so important plays such an important part in the collection’s presentation because of its role in the record’s general effect.  Hearing the static from one song to the next, hearing the richness of each song even in its simplicity, hearing the depth of the vocals, all of it is so clear in each song.  That is a tribute to the work that went in to making sure the songs’ aesthetic effect remained just as powerful in their transfer from their original recordings to this point.  To that end, those responsible for touching up the songs and making sure they are fully immersive are to be commended for their work.  The result is a record that is just as successful for its general effect as for its overall content.  All things considered, that content and general effect makes The Rough Guide to Texas Blues such an enjoyable new addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series that any blues fan will enjoy.

World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is a welcome new addition to the companies’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series.  It is a presentation that will appeal widely among blues fans.  That is due in part to the songs and acts featured in the collection.  They come together to help tell the story of Texas blues’ formative years in such rich fashion.  From well- to lesser-known acts and songs, they form a solid foundation for the collection.  The liner notes that accompany the record’s musical content adds even more to that history lesson and can certainly encourage audiences to embark on their own blues history lesson when considered with said content.  The production that went into the record’s production ensured that the original recordings were expertly transferred to this presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation.  All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Texas Blues a solid starting point and otherwise for any blues fan’s musical library.

The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records.  More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:

Websitehttp://www.worldmusic.net

Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/WorldMusicNetwork

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/WMN_UK

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Monoswezi’s ‘Shanu’ Gets “Five” Stars

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

International music collection Monoswezi is scheduled to release its latest album, Shanu this week.  The band’s fifth album, it is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  The nine-song presentation is a surprisingly enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings and will appeal to audiences new and established alike.  That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The record’s liner notes build on the appeal established through the album’s musical arrangements and make the record even more engaging and entertaining.  They will be addressed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation.  All things considered, they make Shanu a strong new offering from Monoswezi that is among the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.

Monoswezi’s fifth full-length studio recording, Sanu, (which just so happens to translate to the word “five” from the Shona language of Zimbabwe) is an impressive new offering from the group.  The record’s appeal begins with its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question blend elements of Zimbabe, the home nation of the group’s vocalist, Hope Masike, with just enough subtle Western influences to make them appealing for pop musi and World Music fans alike.  One of the most notable ways in which this is evidenced is in the early entry, ‘Woshanda.’  The arrangement here incorporates Masike’s African percussion influences with a distinct Western disco influence for a whole that is unique, to say the very least.  The African percussion comes primarily here through the subtle use of the mbira (basically a little finger piano) while the western influence is a more prominent use of keyboards and electronics.  The blending of those influences here makes the whole a surprisingly infectious composition that is certain to get listeners dancing.  Ironically, as danceable as the musical arrangement proves here, it is an interesting contrast to the song’s lyrical theme, which will be discussed in the examination of the album’s liner notes.

Immediately after ‘Woshanda,’ the group continues to exhibit the way in which it blends its African and American influences so fluidly in the form of ‘Where is My Mbira?’  As the title notes, the song once again incorporates the mbira.  The instrument, by the way, is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, fittingly.  At the same time, the song also incorporates a distinct western R&B sensibility into the mix alongside a subtle, country western style guitar line to make the whole all the more interesting.  The mix of musical influences immediately conjures thoughts from the group’s fellow international music performer Dobe Gnahore, who released her latest album, Couleur early this year.  The overall subtlety of the mix is unlike the more energetic approach taken in ‘Woshanda,’ showing in its own way, the diversity and originality of the album’s featured musical arrangements.

‘Um Pouco,’ which serves as the second half of the album’s midpoint, is another example of the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and how the diversity within the songs themselves makes them so appealing.  In the case of this song, Masike’s Zimbabwean roots remain on display.  However in this composition, that influence is complimented with a horn and saxophone arrangement that at times conjures thoughts of the lounge style jazz sounds of the 60s and at others of the soul and funk of the age.  That soul and funk leaning is made even more evident as the group incorporates some equally subtle guitar and percussion lines into the work.  The balance of those elements here makes the song’s arrangement just as unique as the others examined here and just as engaging and entertaining.  When this work and those noted are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of that content gives audiences more than enough reason to take in this record.  As much as the noted content does to make the album so appealing, it is just one part of the album’s success.  The record’s liner notes add their own appeal to the overall presentation.

The liner notes featured in Shanu are important to address because of the information that they provide.  For instance, with each song is an explanation of the song’s lyrical theme.  This explanation is so important because save for one song – ‘We Crown You Nehanda’ – the album’s songs are sung in Masike’s native tongue.  Masike actually presents the whole of the one noted song in English.  The themes in each song are accessible to audiences American, Zimbabwean and otherwise.  Case in point is the theme of ‘Zvorema,’ In the case of this song, the liner notes point out that the song centers on the topic of encouraging the downtrodden.  It states here, “A lament to the heavens to help us carry and fight the burden of greedy and selfish leaders who feast off the tears and sweat of the rest.”  This is a topic that will, again, resonate with any listener.  Understanding that theme, the song’s musical arrangement, which is decidedly somber and almost melancholy, makes sense and becomes more moving in its impact.

The information provided about ‘Tsika Szako’ states that this song is about the importance of appreciating one’s culture and not giving up on it and just adopting the culture of another.  The information states here, “It’s a form of poverty when one shuns their own traditions and heritage in favour of other cultures.  Look for the good in each culture, including your own.”  Again, this is a fully accessible theme.  Even though Masike, again, sings fully in her native tongue here, audiences can understand and appreciate  the message as it is translated so well here and in the mood set by herself and her fellow musicians.

As if everything noted here is not enough, the group also takes on the topics of love lost and gained here in the album’s opener, ‘Kuwonerewa’ and ‘Paya.’  The opener is about love lost and the closer brings things full circle as it focuses on love gained.  In regards to the album’s opener, the description points out that the song centers on the feeling that one has as a relationship progresses but changes in a not-so good way.  Meanwhile, the closer states simply, “Oh, how beautiful it is to be in your arms!”  That speaks volumes.  So again, audiences are given at least some translation in the liner notes.  Those notes go a long way toward making the arrangements (and songs in general) more appealing.  That is because those brief but concise explanations work well to make for more appreciation for the album’s arrangements.  Together, the explanations and musical arrangements make the songs fully translated and in turn all the more engaging and entertaining.  To that end, the overall content strengthens the album’s presentation that much more.  Even with this in mind, there is still at least one more item to examine in the form of the album’s production.

Shanu’s production is important to examine because of its impact on the arrangements.  As already noted, the arrangements featured here blend elements of Masike’s home nation of Zimbabwe with more accessible western musical influences.  This is also addressed in the liner notes.  Audiences will learn that this approach was intentional this time out for the group.  Getting back on the matter at hand, the album’s production played clearly through each arrangement.  The time and effort put into each composition, to balance those African and American musical influences expertly balances the noted elements.  The subtleties in that balance completely immerse audiences in each song.  The end result is that the album’s production makes its aesthetic impact just as strong as that of the arrangements and the album’s liner notes.  Each item noted, they make the album overall, a successful work that Monoswezi’s established audiences will enjoy just as much as those who are less familiar with the group and its catalog.

Monoswezi’s latest album, Sanu, is an impressive new offering from the international musical collective.  Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements offer audiences the best of both worlds so to speak as they blend elements of Africa and America into one in each work.  It is a first for the group, too, making for even more interest.  The blending of that work will immerse audiences into the record by itself.  The liner notes that accompany the record are also of importance here.  That is because they lessen the impact of the songs being sung mostly in the native tongue of front woman Hope Masike.  The themes prove quite accessible, and when they are considered alongside their musical counterparts, the result is even more enjoyment for listeners.  The record’s production adds to the immersion that audiences will experience in listening to each arrangement.  That is because it exhibits the time and effort put into balancing each song’s instrumentation.  It brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Sanu a successful new offering from Monoswezi that is also among the best of this year’s new World Music albums.

Shanu is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  More information on Shanu is available along with all of Monoswezi’s latest news at:

Websitehttps://monoswezi.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/monoswezi

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

World, Indian Music Fans Alike Will Appreciate Guy Buttery’s Latest Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

Lack of planning and preparation generally leads in most cases in life, to anything but success.  That goes without saying.  At the same time, it is not necessarily the rule.  Case in point is some of the best improvised jazz to ever be created.  Some of the best classical compositions are works that also were developed as they progressed.  Now this Friday, the World Music community will have its own entry to support the noted statement when Guy Buttery releases his new album, One Morning in Gurgaon.  Crafted in partner with Mohd. Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, the seven song record was created literally in a single morning, thus the record’s title.  According to the album’s liner notes, that limited time frame was not something that the trio planned, but rather that happened by chance.  It forced the group to essentially craft the record almost on the fly so to speak.  The session ultimately led to some interesting content, as is evidenced in part through the album’s penultimate entry, ‘Bakithi.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Chidiya,’ which opens the 46-minute record, is another example of the positive that rose from the trio’s short recording time.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘Kya Baat,’ another late entry to the album, is yet another example of the positive that rose from the stress of the group’s recording session.  It will also be discussed later.  When it and the other songs noted here are considered along with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole becomes another unique addition to this year’s field of new World Music albums.

Guy Buttery’s forthcoming album One Morning in Gurgaon, which he crafted with Mohd. Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, is an example of what good can come from people making the most of a bad situation.  It is a record that World Music fans and those of Buttery and company will agree equally is worth hearing.  That is because even in such a short time together, the trio crafted quite the interesting group of compositions.  One of the most interesting of those works comes late in the album’s run in the form of ‘Bakithi.’  ‘Bakithi’ stands out because of its balance of Indian and Western influences.  Throughout the course of the nearly five-minute opus, the pairing of the guitar line – which boasts a sort of country/folk vibe a la Dave Matthews and Ben Harper – and the Indian instrumentation makes for such a unique work in itself.  It makes the song stand out opposite its counterparts clearly.  The song starts off a little contemplative in its nature, but once it gets going, the two sides really get audiences engaged and entertained.  The production here is just as much to attribute to that impact as the song itself.  The echo effect used in the Indian instrumentation gives that side its own depth that, set against the song’s more Western-influenced guitar line, really adds such a welcome aesthetic to the whole.  That joining of “East” and West here is important not just on the musical level, but also the cultural level, too.  It serves to show what happens when two cultures work together.  All things considered here, the song proves to be just one of the most important of the album’s songs.  ‘Chidiya’ is another example of all the good that came from the trio’s brief recording session.

‘Chidiya,’ leans more toward the trio’s affections for Indian music and its culture.  The song barely tops the two minute mark, clocking in at two minutes, five seconds.  Even in that short time, the song evokes such depth and emotion from the simple arrangement.  It is centered on am unidentified string instrument that sounds an awful lot like a cello, but obviously is not.  The simple, mournful approach to the song is so rich.  Going back to the understanding that this song and each work featured in the album was essentially an improvised work, that the trio was able to bring about so much heart in this song is another statement of how sometimes, just sometimes, a bad situation can in fact create something positive.  It is just one more of the songs that serves to exhibit how much this album has to offer.  ‘Kya Baat’ is yet another way in which Buttery’s new album proves a success.

‘Kya Baat’ is stylistically similar to ‘Bakithi’ in that it once again brings together Buttery and company’s Western and Indian leanings.  At the same time, the arrangement is once again unique from the rest of the album’s entries.  Instead of the lighter approach of ‘Bakithi’ or even the mournful approach of ‘Chidiya,’ this song presents more of an urgent, contemplative sense.  That sense is especially established through the pairing of the tabla and guitar.  The other unnamed Indian string instrument invluded in the mix adds even more depth to the whole.  As the song progresses, the urgency in each instrument’s line increases, eventually building to a climax near the song’s finale that will leave listeners in awe.  That is especially the case as the climax immediately takes listeners back to the urgency exhibited in the song’s opening.  That also builds quickly back to a second climax at the finale that leaves listeners just as fulfilled.  Keeping that in mind, the whole of this song proves in itself just as much as the other songs examined here that even though Buttery and company had so little time to record this album, the product that the group produced was and is a success.  That is even clearer when all three songs examined here are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries.  All things considered, the whole of the album proves to be a unique new addition to this year’s field of World Music albums that is well worth hearing.

Guy Buttery’s new album, One Morning In Gurgaon is an interesting presentation.  Crafted alongside with his friends Amjad Khan and Mudassir Khan, the seven-song record holds its own against its fellow World Music offerings because of its featured arrangements.  The arrangements bring out the best of Buttery’s own performance and those of his friends.  At times blending what sounds and feels like Western influences with Indian and at others leaning more directly toward the group’s Indian influences, the whole presents unique content from one song to the next, as is evidenced through the songs examined here.  When the songs in question are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole becomes a work that World Music aficionados will enjoy just as much as those who are more interested in pure Indian music.

One Morning in Gurgaon is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network.  More information on the album is available along with all of Buttery’s latest news at:

Website: https://guybuttery.co.za

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guybutterymusic

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Eva Quartet’s Latest LP Is Interesting But Imperfect

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Bulgarian musical collective Eva Quartet is scheduled to release its new album this week.  The quartet – Gergana Dimitrova, Sofia Kovacheva, Evelina Hristova, and Daniela Stoitchkova – is scheduled to release its new album, Minka Friday through Riverboat Records.  The group’s new 14-song record is an interesting but imperfect presentation.  To its positive is its musical content, which will be discussed shortly.  The one shortcoming from which the album suffers is its lack of English translated lyrics.  This will be discussed a little later.  While the lack of English translated lyrics detracts from the album’s presentation, its liner notes make up for that shortcoming at least somewhat.  This aspect will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered, they make Minka a World Music offering that is worth hearing at least once.

Eva Quartet’s new forthcoming album Minka is an intriguing addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are fully a capella performances.  At times cacophonous, such as in ‘Velko Si Rada Zaljuni’ and at others more controlled, such as in ‘Balno Li Ti E Sinjo Ljo,’ the arrangements put the full talents and control of the group’s vocals on display here.  The timbre, dynamics, and other aspects of each woman’s vocal delivery is so rich and full in each performance.  Forget any comparison to maybe a Celtic Woman or any other similar act.  The often times Gregorian chant style vocal deliveries and at other times more harmonious singing create so much engagement and entertainment.  The overall presentation is such that even being sung entirely in the group’s native tongue it is still reason enough for audiences to hear at least once.

Speaking of the group singing entirely in its native language, this brings about the album’s one notable negative.  While the approach and various sounds presented in the group’s arrangements make for reason enough for audiences to hear the album, the lack of any English translated lyrics detracts notably from the album’s presentation.  It detracts from the record’s appeal because it means audiences will not know specifically, the story/message in each song.  Simply put, what happens here is a disconnect between the group and English-speaking audiences because of that lacking.  Yes, the album’s booklet does offer background on the songs (the album’s other positive, which will be discussed shortly), but the lack of the actual content means that the album’s reach will be limited among domestic audiences because those audiences want to know what the group is singing.  Keeping this in mind, this lack of actual English-translated lyrics does detract from the album’s presentation, but does not completely doom the record.  It just would have been very nice for English-speaking audiences to be able to make that full connection.  The noted addition of background on each of the songs in the album’s booklet makes up for the lack of lyrical content at least to a point.

The background provided on the songs in the album’s booklet is important because it at least gives audiences a starting point as they take in each song.  Case in point is the information presented about the album’s opener, ‘Minka E Rano Stanala.’  According to the information provided in the booklet, the song centers, lyrically, on “human relationships and a mother’s love.”  Now being that this and other background can be printed in the booklet, it leaves one wondering (again) why English translated lyrics were not featured in the booklet, too.  Getting back on topic, that background makes the solemn approach to the song more understandable.  In similar fashion, the background information provided about ‘Leme Dreme’ helps audiences understand the lighter approach and sound in this song.  According to the provided information, the song focuses on a woman who is trying to sleep and the man who comes to playfully wake her up.  The light tones from the fiddle and vocals go a long way to help tell the story along with the background information.  That is even without lyrics to reference.  Again, sure it would have been nice to have had some English translation for the words, but even without them, the song is still able to be understood and appreciated thanks to that background information.  It is just one more way in which the album’s liner notes prove so important to its presentation.  When it and the rest of the background information provided in the album’s booklet is considered along with the album’s content, that whole leaves the album that much more worth hearing, if only slightly.  Keeping in mind the impact and importance of the record’s musical and background content, the two items together make the new record worth hearing at least once.  That is the case even taking into account the lack of English translated lyrics in the album’s booklet.

Eva Quartet’s forthcoming album Minka is an intriguing new offering from the group.  It is a presentation that proves at least somewhat appealing.  That is due in part to its featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements are all entirely a capella performances, with the occasional instrumental accompaniment.  The harmonies, the occasional dissonance, and the point/counterpoint in the arrangements and their performances generates its own share of interest.  While the arrangements give audiences some reason to hear the album, the lack of English translations detracts from the engagement and entertainment guaranteed by the album’s musical content.  That is because its lack means at least domestic audiences will not have that contact to follow, leading to less connection to the album among said audiences.  Luckily, the background information about the songs that the group provides in the album’s companion booklet makes up for that shortcoming at least somewhat.  When that background information is considered along with the album’s musical content, the two elements collectively make the record at least somewhat worth hearing.  Minka is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of the quartet’s latest news at https://www.facebook.com/eva.quartet.3.  

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

World Music Fans Will Find Ben Aylon’s Latest LP An Interesting Presentation

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

World music artist Ben Aylon is scheduled to release his latest album this week.  The album, Xalam is scheduled for release through Riverboat Records.  The nine-song presentation, which will come less than a year after his then most recent record, Flow Show, is a presentation that most World Music fans will find interesting.  That is due in part to the record’s featured songs.  This will be discussed shortly.  The sequencing of the record’s songs creates its own appeal and will be addressed a little later.  The companion booklet that accompanies the album rounds out the album’s most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this 43-minute album.  All things considered, they make the album such that most World Music fans will agree it is worth hearing at least once.

Ben Aylon’s debut album Xalam is a work that most World Music fans will find is worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the album’s featured songs.  The songs in question are a mix of instrumentals and full songs with vocals.  Sadly, no English translations are provided in the booklet for the lyrics in the songs, which contain vocals (this will be discussed later).  That aside, the songs do well to capture Aylon’s connections to Mali and Senegal in their instrumentation and stylistic approaches.  The arrangements are stylistically similar to one another with their West African influences.  At the same time, there are subtle variances from one to the next.  Even being rooted in the music of West Africa, listeners will just as easily catch their similarity to Middle Eastern music, making for lots of discussion in itself.  At the same time, one can argue that there is the most subtle Western influence exhibited in this record, too.  Case in point is the two-part composition, ‘SeneGambia.’  The song features a slow, almost bluesy arrangement that even hints at some electrified element within its presentation.  That seeming Western influence blends so well with the more West African influences to make the eight-minute-plus composition a clear example in itself of what makes the album’s musical arrangements so important to the record’s overall presentation.  Much the same can be said of the arrangement featured in ‘Benn Takamba.’  On a different note, ‘Café Touba’ more openly embraces the sounds of Western Africa with its controlled presentation and distinct “movements.”  Between this arrangement, the others noted here and the rest of the album’s compositions, the whole of the album’s arrangements make for reason enough for audiences to listen to this record.

Staying on the topic of the album’s musical content, the sequencing thereof also gives audiences reason to listen to the record.  The sequencing ensures audiences’ engagement and entertainment just as much as the content itself.  The whole thing starts off in up-tempo fashion in the album’s title track.  From there, listeners will note a distinct pulling back in ‘Hulem Belibe.’  ‘SeneGambia’ slightly moves the album’s energy in a more forward direction again before passing things on to the album’s next peak, ‘Alafia.’  The album’s final quarter is made up of arrangements that are gradually more subdued than the next, with the finale, ‘Mon Lov’ being the album’s most subdued moment.  Looking back through all of this, what audiences will note that there are very deliberate, directed ups and downs throughout the album’s arrangements, in terms of their energies.  Those clear movements in energy do their own part to make the album’s content overall even more engaging and entertaining.  To that end, the whole makes the album that much more deserving of being heard at least once.  Keeping all of this in mind, there is still one more notable item to discuss in examining the album in whole.  That last item is the record’s companion booklet.

The booklet that accompanies Ben Aylon’s new album is important to the record’s production because of the background information that it provides.  One of the most important of the background items noted in the booklet is in reference to the album’s title.  The notes point out that Xalam (pronounced khalam) is a West African musical instrument with connection to the ancient Malian empire.  Keeping that in mind, the title is a hint of the music that is featured in the album.  Again, the music is connected to Mali and Senegal, so the title was clearly intended in its use here. 

Just as interesting to learn through the booklet’s liner notes is that Aylon is Israeli by birth.  Along with that note is the revelation that the Middle Eastern influence noted in this review was in fact intentional.  So what audiences get here is clearly Aylon’s own cultural influence joining with the West African influences that make up the majority of the album’s musical arrangements.  This in itself will not only enhance the listening experience, but will also generate plenty of discussion among listeners.

Another interesting note mentioned in the album’s liner notes is the revelation that this album was not just something assembled over the course of a matter of months.  According to the liner notes, it was recorded over the course of years, and apparently around the world.  That includes one song recorded “at the foot of the Rock of Gibraltar,” another recorded in Germany, and yet another in a studio of a famous rapper from Dakar.  The liner notes add that “improvised hotel rooms” were also used in the recording process.  So it sounds like Aylon recorded where and when he could.  This adds even more to the overall appeal of the album.  It shows that the recording was thought out, not just thrown together as part of some contractual obligation.  The appeal ensured through this revelation (and related engagement and entertainment) works with the rest of the information provided in the booklet to show even more why this part of the album is so important to its presentation.

For all of the positives that the companion booklet offers listeners, there is one problem from which it suffers.  That one problem is the lack of lyrics, foreign and English.  It would have been interesting to know what the vocalists are singing in the album’s full tracks.  It is not enough to make the album a failure by any means.  At the same time, it just would have been nice to have had that element as part of the whole.  That one negative aside, the album in whole proves itself a presentation that most World Music fans will welcome.

Ben Aylon’s latest album, Xalam is a presentation that most World Music fans will find interesting and worth hearing at least once.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements bring Aylon’s own Middle Eastern cultural influence together with the intended West African influences and even some seeming Western influence for a unique whole.  The sequencing of the featured songs adds its own touch to the listening experience.  That is because it makes clear, the obvious thought that went into the ups and downs in the album’s energies.  The background information provided about the album in the record’s companion booklet rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.  It is certain to generate its own discussions and interest among audiences.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make the record an interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music albums.  Xalam is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Ben Aylon’s latest news at:

Website: https://benaylon.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OneManTribe

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Tilston’s New LP Is One Of 2021’s Sleeper Hits

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Independent veteran singer-songwriter Steve Tilston is scheduled to release his latest album Such Times Friday through Riverboat Records.  Its release will come on the 50th anniversary of the release of his debut album An Acoustic Confusion (1971).  The 15-song record is an interesting presentation whose mix of folk and blues arrangements and lyrical themes will appeal to a wide range of audiences.  The album’s title track, which comes almost halfway through the album’s 64-minute run time, is just one example of what makes the album so interesting.  It will be discussed shortly.  The album’s bluesy/rockabilly penultimate composition, ‘My Mystery Train’ is another way in which the album’s collective content comes together to make the album worth hearing.  ‘Daylight Rising,’ which opens the album, is yet another example of how the album’s collective content comes together to make for an interesting listen.  When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, noted and not, the whole makes the record an intriguing work in that folk and blues fans alike will find entertaining and engaging.

Steve Tilston’s forthcoming album Such Times – his 18th album — is a presentation that many audiences will find a welcome return and equally positive introduction to Tilston’s body of work.  That is proven collectively through the album’s musical and lyrical content.  That is proven to some point in the album’s title track.   The nearly four-and-a-half minute composition is just one of the songs featured in this record that serves to support the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement is a simple composition.  That should be noted right off the bat.  It features just Tilston singing and picking his guitar as he sings.  At some points, his performance conjures thoughts of Eric Clapton and others of The Moody Blues front man Justin Hayward.  That pairing of sounds, together with the Renaissance type vibe that the flute brings to the mix, makes for even more engagement and entertainment.  That musical whole makes for plenty of entertainment and engagement in its own right.  Together with the song’s lyrical content, the whole there makes for even more appeal.

The lyrical content featured in ‘Such Times’ comes across as a commentary about the state of the world.  Given it is hardly the first time any artist has taken that familiar lyrical path.  It is a unique take on that familiar theme, though.  Tilston opens the song, singing, “What comes down/From hallowed halls/The day is night/Now the day is night…wrong is right/Now wrong is right/Silver tongues sing  their  siren chill…shivered words…The hungry child/Whispers…oh to live in such times as these.”  Some of the lyrics in this verse are difficult to decipher sans a lyrics sheet to reference.    That aside, enough is still understandable enough that the general message can be interpreted.    He is making a statement here about everything that is going on.  His use of metaphorical language plays into that statement well enough here to make that evident.   He continues in the song’s second verse, “Words cascade like a poison rain/Wade away through the light/Even though it’s all too plain/Turn our eye/We must deny our eyes/The self serve righteous use false charm/To oil the wheels and the grease the bar/At the temple gates/The homeless freeze/Oh to live in such times as these.”  If the noted message in this song was not clear enough already in the song’s lead verse, then this second verse makes the theme crystal clear.  He even goes so far as to note in the song’s third verse, “I can remember/A landscape much fairer” before continuing to comment on how ne’er do wells were not as prominent.  It all comes together to make for an original approach to an all too familiar lyrical topic.  When these statements are made alongside the bittersweet folk/Celtic style musical arrangement, the whole becomes a strong example of what makes the album worth hearing.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  ‘My Mystery Train’ does its own part to show the album’s interest.

‘My Mystery Train,’ which is essentially a cover of Junior Parker’s original, takes a musical path that is completely opposite of that of the album’s title track.  This composition lends itself more to comparisons to the country/rockabilly style songs of Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and even perhaps the greatest country bluesman of all time, Jimmie Rodgers.  Yes, the brakeman himself.  The bluesy/country twang in the song, including in Tilston’s own vocal delivery makes this song an assured hit.  That is just one part of the song that throws back to the classic country blues songs of days long gone.  The song’s lyrical content does much the same, adding to the appeal here.

Tilston sings in the song’s lead verse, “The train that rumbled/All through my younger days/Way off in the distance/All through my younger days/One day that train might come carry me away.”  If that is not vintage country blues, it is not clear what is, then.  Tilston continues in the song’s second verse, “There’s a man in the station/Got a pad/And he’s takin’ down names/Well he’s there on the platform/And he’s takin’ down names/Well he knows when my train’s gonna come/But he just ain’t sayin’/I’m waiting for that mystery train/I’m just waiting for my mystery train.”  The full on country blues bridge that follows that verse and chorus makes the strong even more enjoyment.  He closes out the song singing, “There’s a train and a river/Runnin’ side-by-side/Train and reflection/Runnin’ side-by-side/I’m gonna make that connection/Take that train and ride.”  Once more, this is classic country blues all the way.  It’s a simple song about someone just jumping a train and taking it wherever it may go.  This is a classic theme from the noted genre, and is just as entertaining to hear Tilston sing about today as when it was sung by so many who have come before him.  It is just one more example of what makes this record so worth hearing.  ‘Daylight Rising,’ the album’s opener, is one more example of the interest that Tilston’s new album generates.

‘Daylight Rising’ presents audiences with another unique musical style, changing things up even more for listeners.  This nearly four-and-a-half minute opus presents a sort of soulful country/folk style composition.  The upbeat composition is just as much unlike the other two songs already addressed here as they are from the rest of the album’s entries.  It is a bright, uplifting work that is equal parts strong opener for the album and standalone musical composition.  The joy that the song’s musical arrangement brings listeners pairs with the song’s equally uplifting lyrical theme to make the song even more notable.

The lyrical theme featured in ‘Daylight Rising’ is an uplifting statement that reminds listeners that things will get better.  Tilston points that out right from the song’s outset as he sings, “Daylight/Will come rising/With a long night/A last goodbye/Daylight/Will come  risin’/And an ill wind will lay down tonight/There will come a time to open wide the windows/get u out the bed and weave across the floor/Leave behind the shadows/Take your aching bones outside the door/Daylight will come rising/Bid the long night a last goodbye.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “There will come a time to shun all the false faces…Knowing that their way was always wrong.  There is a section in this verse that is slightly difficult to decipher without a lyrics sheet, but that is beside the point.  The fact of the matter is that enough is understandable here to know for certain that this song is in fact meant to lift up listeners.  It succeeds in that goal, too.  Everyone needs that occasional reminder that things will in fact get better, and this song does just that, and does so in impressive fashion.  When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album proves itself a presentation that is one of this year’s sleeper hits.

Steve Tilston’s latest full-length studio recording Such Times is a surprising, unassuming record that is well worth hearing.  That is proven through its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes.  As shown here, the record features a respectable range of styles in its body.  There is a touch of folk music, some blues, and even some country music.  At times the genres stand alone and other others, they meld together.  The whole of those arrangements makes the overall musical presentation reason enough to hear this record.  The lyrical themes that accompany the record’s musical content guarantee its own appeal.  That is proven here, too.  All things considered, the album will likely fly just below the mainstream radar, but deserves its own share of attention.  It all comes together to make the album one of this year’s sure sleeper hits.  Such Times is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of Steve Tilston’s latest news at https://stevetilston.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to https://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.  

Audiences Will Enjoy The Musical Journey Offered By Klezmer-ish In Its New Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

Great things can and often do come in the most unexpected places.  Musical collective Klezmer-ish is proof of that statement.  Having originally met while serving with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the group released its debut album in 2016.  The album, Music of the Travellers, is a celebration of cultural diversity, including that of its own members, who come from their own unique background.  The group followed up that record Friday with its sophomore album Dusty Road.  Released through Riverboat Records, the 12-song, mostly instrumental album is a presentation that World Music fans will find appealing.  That is because as the group’s name infers, the group’s music is not limited to just the Jewish musical tradition.  Rather, the 56-minute record reaches into the American influence on the style to add to its appeal.  Case in point is the group’s take on the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  This song will be addressed shortly.  The most notable of the full-on klezmer style work comes right in the song’s outset in ‘The Klezmer’s Freilach.’  It will be discussed a little later.  The album’s title track, which closes out its run, is yet another way in which the album shows its appeal.  When it is considered with the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s presentation, the whole of the album becomes a presentation that will appeal to any World Music aficionado.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a successful new effort from the up-and-coming World Music collection that fans of the genre are certain to appreciate.  That is because despite the group’s name, its new album is not limited to just the noted style of music.  The quartet also leans into the jazz realm in its new album while also maintaining the klezmer influences in the process.  That is most obvious in the group’s take of the timeless jazz song ‘I’m Confessin’.’  One of only two full compositions in this record to feature a vocal performance, this song takes the European influence of the klezmer style and crosses that with a touch of old Benny Goodman big band style approach for a whole arrangement that is one of the most unique and enjoyable takes on the classic Chris Smith/Sterling Grant work to ever be recorded.  The gentle, flowing clarinet work of Thomas Verity works with Rob Shepley’s work on the guitar to make the whole a work that will take listeners back to the shimmering social clubs of the 1930s that lit up the nights.  The same can be said of the equally gentle vocal delivery in this song.  The whole is a work that blends the two unique noted musical styles for one whole that is unquestionably one of the album’s strongest entries.  It is just one of the album’s most notable works.  The record’s opener, ‘The Klezzmer’s Freilach’ is another strong addition to the album.

‘The Klezmer’s Freilach’ stands on its own merits as it is a direct tribute to the dances that members of the Jewish community danced – and dance to this day – at celebrations, such as holidays and mitvahs.  The joy that must be experienced at those dances is so well translated throughout this song.  It starts off slow, but builds quickly, delivering so much energy and positive sense.  One can almost visualize the people dancing, and then resetting at the song’s midpoint before their feet start moving all over again.  Shepley and Verity once again shine here in their own right while accordion player Cocettina Del Vecchio adds her own touch through her performance.  Double bassist Marcel Becker ensures the song’s tempo is maintained through his own work, too.  The group’s dynamic control throughout the composition makes for so much engagement and enjoyment.  The end result of the group’s performance is a strong opener for the album, and another example of what makes the album such an enjoyable overall presentation.  The record’s title track, which closes it out, is one more of its strong points.

‘Dusty Road’ is the second of the album’s two only full compositions that also boasts a vocal line.  It’s hard to know which member of the quartet leads the way with this track.  That is because all four members of the group contribute so much to this song.  The vocals combine with the instrumentation to conjure thoughts of Nat King Cole at times.  The instrumentation meanwhile once again adds that klezmer influence through the use of the accordion and clarinet while the guitar line adds more of a jazz sense to the song.  At the same time, the clarinet could be argued to exhibit its own jazz sense along with that klezmer influence.  Regardless, it can be said that this song brings listeners the best of both worlds once again and balances them expertly.  The result is a composition that is just as engaging and entertaining as the album’s other songs, including the others discussed here.  When all of the songs are considered together, they make Dusty Road a musical road that any listener will enjoy traveling.

Klezmer-ish’s sophomore album Dusty Road is a positive new offering from the up-and-coming World Music act.  That is because the album’s arrangements once again bring listeners elements of klezmer music and other musical styles.  All three of the songs examined here serve to support that statement.  The album’s other tracks could support that statement just as easily.  All things considered, the musical journey on which Dusty Road takes listeners is a trip that audiences will enjoy from beginning to end.  Dusty Road is available now.  More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://klezmerish.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Klezmerish

Twitter: http://twitter.com/klezmer_ish

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Trio Tekke’s Latest LP Is One Of 2020’s Most Unique World Music Offerings

Courtesy: Riverboat Records

International musical collective Trio Tekke is scheduled to release its new full-length studio recording Strovilos today.  The 10-song record is an enjoyable new offering from the trio.  That is thanks to the record’s combined musical and lyrical content.  Right from the record’s outset, audiences are treated to quite the interesting performance in the form of ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  It is just one of the songs that makes the record stand out, and will be addressed shortly.  ‘Whirlwind,’ which comes later in the record’s run, is another example of what makes the album a strong presentation.  ‘Karmic,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is yet another example of why this record is a presentation that World Music fans will appreciate.  When it is considered alongside the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s works, the whole of the record becomes one of this year’s top new World Music albums.

Trio Tekke’s latest full-length studio recording Strovilos – the band’s fourth album – is a work that the group’s longtime fans will appreciate just as much as those who might be less familiar with the trio’s catalog.  That is proven right from the record’s outset in the form of its opener, ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  While this record is considered part of this year’s new World Music field, this song comes across as anything but World Music in its arrangement.  Rather, it boasts more of a light rock work with a Middle Eastern vibe thanks to the instrumentation.  The bass and drums compliment the more Middle Eastern elements (including the vocals) to make the song a strong start for the album and an equally strong example of why this record is worth hearing at least once.  What’s really interesting about the arrangement is the subtlety in its approach, when it is joined with the song’s seemingly introspective lyrical content.

The seemingly introspective nature in the song’s lyrical content is inferred as Atonis Antoniou sings in the song’s lead verse, “I strayed in the dusk/In the barren valleys/I’ve taken off to find out/What keeps drumming inside my head/Lost in the mountains and the vales/Gone in the gloom/I got out for a stroll to see/What keeps drumming inside my mind.”  He continues as the song progresses, “I dive in the nightfall/I get burned/I become a troubler cyclone/I wear the embrace of the night/I fall/I run wild on the ground/I paint myself as the dawn’s tempest/Everything’s fading before my eyes/There’s no return/Wandering on black planets, somewhere/Which God?/Which monster is touching it now?/And who is cursing at what is about to begin?”  The song closes out returning to the original question before the song’s subject pleads, “Take me, dear eaglets/Far away with you/Over the horizon to the secret cliffs.”  This, again, is quite the introspective piece.  It comes across as someone who has gone through a lot, emotionally, and as a result is still trying to figure things out.  This is, as always, this critic’s own take on the lyrics.  What’s really interesting here is that considering the emotional sense in the song’s musical arrangement, the two sides don’t seem to match.  The song’s arrangement sounds and feels so relaxed, which is the polar opposite of the seeming message in the song’s lyrical theme.  There is a certain edge in the song’s energy, yes, but the two sides seem so opposite.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.  It really makes the song stand out that much more considering that the tension does rise as the song progresses.  Keeping that in mind, it’s a bit of an original way to illustrate the seeming emotion in such a song’s lyrics.  To that end, the two elements make the song in whole a unique work that will engage and entertain any listener.  It is just one of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Whirlwind,’ which comes a little later in the album’s 44-minute run time, is notable in its own right.

‘Whirlwind’ is completely unlike ‘Tempest of the Dawn.’  Unlike that work, this composition presents a very gentle, subdued emotional presentation through its simple instrumentation and vocals.  The percussion and stringed instrumentation is right there, presenting the familiar Middle Eastern sounds once more, but the arrangement in whole boasts its own engaging presentation through its subtle sound and approach.  That subdued approach to the song is fitting considering that the song’s lyrical content seems to be a tribute to perhaps a friend of the group.  That is inferred in the album’s liner notes, which state, “Dedicated to Yiangos (1978-2017).

If anything can be inferred from this tribute to whomever Yiangos was, that person sounded like quite an admirable figure.  The song’s lead verse pays tribute to him, stating, “At daylight he rouses/Asking for a kiss/And amorous cuddles/With the almond trees/For a pleasant scent/The pomegranate he clasps/And from the wet soil/The sweet air he gasps/Softly he sings/Chirping like a bird/The words of dawn/and of the deep spring/Alone he walks the tightrope/He dances and he twists/Naked he poises/Flirting in the mist.  The song continues, “Either he is a mad, Brahmin wizard/Or we’re all mindless, solitary beasts/Powerful wind/Take me with thee/I want to spin/As a crazy whirlwind/to find him there/Where the eagles fly/Where the sun kisses his golden hair in the sky.”  This is its own celebratory sort of eulogy for someone who it would seem was close to the members of Trio Tekke.  What’s more, it doesn’t come across as one of those overly typical tearjerker works that it easily could have been, both lyrically and musically.  Rather, it is just a gentle, happy tribute to someone who it would seem was quite an outstanding person in his own right.  It’s an example of an ode (so to speak) done right from which so many acts can take something.  This is why this song stands out so clearly among the overall body of Trio Tekke’s new album.  It is not the last of the record’s most notable works.  ‘Karmic,’ the record’s penultimate entry, is one more of the record’s strongest works.

‘Karmic’ is a work that will appeal to any listener at least in part through its upbeat musical arrangement.  The steady time keeping and positive vibes exuded through the clearly positive sound in the instrumentation and vocals make this arrangement a composition that will stick with listeners long after the song (and album) ends.  The arrangement is important to note because it compliments the song’s familiar lyrical theme so well.  It illustrates that well, the joy in the subject’s mind as he is clearly singing about a romantic interest.

The song’s subject sings in the song’s lead verse, “With kisses you madden me/My girly, lovely poppet/Inside your soft arms/It was fated, said the prophet/To end up one night/A beggar for your touch/I got lost in your eyes/Dizzy from lust/I love you/My heart beats like drums/I can’t get enough of you/I’m dying/When will you come/You’re crazy/But it’s you I desire/My poor mind, you have riled.”  He continues as the song progresses, “Of your truth, I don’t know/Or if you’re pulling my leg/You say it is all my fault/Our love you’re no longer fueling/But I got stuck on you/And how do I get to the bottom of it/My pain is heavy/My tears endless/I love you/My heart beats like drums/Guilt burns my soul/In this haze/I drink poison and dive in/An endless bottle/I love you/My heart beats like drums/And that was – Karmic.’  It would seem here that whomever the song’s subject loved so much ended the relationship and now the subject is desperate to reclaim that other person’s affections.  What is so interesting here is that more often than not, in standard American popular music, songs of such lyrical nature tend to end up being very brooding, ph woe is me type works, both in their musical and lyrical content.  This song is the exact opposite.  Of course, Trio Tekke is not an American group, so that might explain something.  Regardless, it is nice to have such a song take such an unexpected emotional turn, and that it does stand out so much, it is that much more certain that listeners will connect with the song.  Keeping that appeal in mind along with the appeal created through ‘Tempest of the Dawn,’ ‘Whirlwind’ and the rest of the album’s works, the end result is a presentation overall, that will appeal to any World Music aficionado.

Trio Tekke’s fourth full-length studio recording Strovilos is a work that will appeal just as much to the group’s established fan base as much as it will to those less familiar with the band’s catalog.  That is proven through the album’s unique musical and lyrical content, as exhibited here.  The band’s musical arrangements are compositions that rae not easily comparable to works from any of the group’s counterparts within the World Music realm.  The lyrical themes are unique in their own fashion, too.  All three of the songs addressed here support the noted statements.  When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the album in whole proves itself a work that is among the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.  It is available now.  More information on the album is available online along with all of the band’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.triotekke.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrioTekkeBand

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and ‘Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Manhu’s Debut Album Is 2020’s First Great World Music Album

Courtesy: Riverboat Records/World Music Network

China was in the news a lot last year thanks to the ongoing issue of trade concerns between that nation and the United States.  Now with the start of a brand new year, World Music Network is bringing more attention to China, but in a far better fashion.  The label, which handles music from all around the world, will release Chinese musical group Manhu’s latest album Voices of the Sani Jan. 31 in partner with Riverboat Records.  The 11-song record is a work that will appeal to those with an appreciation for far East Asian music as well as those with an appreciation for music from places other than the United States.  One part of what makes the album worth taking in is its companion booklet.  In reading through the booklet, audiences will gain a new appreciation for the album’s overall music, which collectively adds its own share of engagement an entertainment for listeners.  The record’s sequencing is just as notable as its music and companion booklet.  When it is considered along with the album’s collective body of music and its companion booklet, the whole of those elements makes the album the year’s first notable World Music offerings.

Voices of the Sani, the debut album from Manhu is a positive first impression from the Chinese musical act.  It is a work that American audiences who appreciate music from outside the nation’s own borders will appreciate.  That is due in part to the album’s companion booklet.  The album’s booklet is important to note in that it presents a brief but concise background on the group while also outlining the lyrical themes of at least some of the album’s 11 songs.  Not every song is discussed in the companion booklet, but enough songs are addressed to give listeners a good starting point in understanding and appreciating the group’s aim in its chosen songs for the album.  The booklet points out the roots of the album’s music and that of its members, noting the members and music come from the Stone Forest region of the Yunnan province of China.  It continues, pointing out the deep and rich culture of the region’s more than nine million people are what influenced the album’s songs.  From there, the booklet’s liner notes point out the theme of songs, such as ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ ‘Banquet Dance’ and ‘Ashima.’

The liner notes state of ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ the song is about a mother who is struggling to come to terms with her daughter growing up, getting married and starting her own life.  ‘Banquet Dance,’ the liner notes state, is a celebratory work meant to honor guests into a household for a dinner.  ‘Ashima’ is similar, lyrically, to ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ according to the album’s booklet.  It states the song centers on young people’s decision to choose their own mates, going against traditional Sani and Yi culture of accepting arranged marriages.  It’s just one more of the songs approached within the booklet’s liner notes.  Considering that the songs are sung entirely in the language of the Sani, these explanations are crucial in understanding at least some of the album’s songs.  That understanding leads to more appreciation for the album overall.

While not all of the songs featured in Voices of the Sani are addressed in the album’s booklet, the foundation that the addressed songs form – along with the history of the group and its culture – helps create a certain understanding and appreciation for the rest of the album.  Songs, such as ‘Folk Dance,’ ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and ‘Spring and Summer’ develop a new life.  Listeners can understand, thanks to the use of the traditional Sani instrumentations and vocal stylings in each song, what the group is working to translate musically.  Listeners do not have to be able to understand the lyrics to appreciate the songs.  They can read the song titles and take in the arrangements and instantly know what the group is discussing in each work.  That attention to being able to translate each song’s message musically more than makes up for the fact that the album’s lyrics are sung entirely in the language of the group’s people.  That effort works as well as it does because of the foundation formed through the album’s companion booklet.  The booklet sets the groundwork for the rest of the record.  Keeping all of this in mind, the noted booklet works in tandem with the album’s musical body to show even more why this record is a positive start for Manhu.  As much as those elements do for the album’s presentation, they are just some of its most notable elements.  The record’s sequencing plays into its sequencing, too.

Throughout the course of the album, its sequencing takes listeners on quite the journey.  From the celebratory vibes of ‘Banquet Dance’ and ‘Joys of Drinking’ to ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ listeners go from the highest highs to the emotional impact of someone trying to come to terms of a major life change.  ‘Ashima,’ as noted already, is the polar opposite of ‘Daughter’s Ballad,’ presenting a much more positive sense as it celebrates a young person’s independence.  It is a stark contrast to the melancholy of ‘Daughter’s Ballad.’  The positive vibes continue from that point on in various degrees.  Some songs are more upbeat than others, but each song is celebratory and unique in its own way.  That variance and positive sense from each song does its own share to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  When this is considered along with the album’s liner notes and the songs themselves, the whole of the album becomes even more appealing to listeners.  They collectively make Voices of the Sani a strong debut from Manhu and the year’s first truly enjoyable World Music offering.

Manhu’s debut album Voices of the Sani is a work that will leave World Music fans around the world raising their voices in the best way possible.  That is due in part to the album’s booklet which effectively introduces the group and its culture, whicle just as effectively laying the groundwork to explain much of the album’s lyrical content.  That understanding helps listeners to enjoy the album’s songs from start to finish.  The album’s sequencing does its own part to keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout the album’s run.  When it is considered along with the album’s booklet and body, the whole of the album becomes a smart start for Manhu that World Music aficionados everywhere will appreciate.  More information on Voices of the Sani is available online along with all of Manhu’s latest news at http://www.facebook.com/Manhuband.

 

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